Monthly Archives: January 2012

Two thoughts on the Apple’s Education Event in NYC: Its presentation software, Keynote is alive and well and expected to prosper, and Android-based tablets are dead in the water in the K-12 education domain.

This morning I woke early early to attend the Channel 7 Melbourne studios for an interview on its morning program, Sunrise. The topic was the virtual site, Second Life, which had apparently been mentioned in the midst of some controversy in a Sydney-based morning radio show.

As so often happens, television picked up on it and I was rung by a producer to offer comments as a media psychologist. You can read something about what happened at this link here from the Metaverse Journal website. A video of my interview is below:

After that breakfast, a brutal workshop with a personal trainer (2012 resolution in action), it was time to settle back to watch the Apple Education Event whose details I had been avoiding all morning. That’s been my habit these past few years: avoiding another’s opinions and perceptions of Apple keynotes, and trusting my own reactions first.

In my previous post (scroll down), I had made some predictions as to what we might see announced, and I was particularly interested to see the fate of Keynote and Pages – indeed, iWork in general – should Apple roll out an iTunes Scholar app (called iTunes U in the event) as well as an book authoring tool, whether it be a beefed up Pages or a new app entirely.

As it turned out, it was both. Yes, a new app called iTunes Author but with an exceptionally close resemblance to Pages.

But my heart was gladdened, having been buoyed by learning iWork’s VP Roger Rosner had been seconded to the iBooks team, when I saw how Keynote was integrated into the iBooks Author workflow, something I had discussed in my earlier blog post.

While neither it nor Pages received published updates, it’s clear to me they will, given iBooks Author is only in version 1.0. As Apple watchers know, such versions are quite acceptable as they are for initial versions – very functional with great ease of use based on familiarity with other Apple apps. There are clear omissions which some with a predilection to diss all things Apple will seize upon, but again long term Apple observers know they will eat their words and look sheepish when V 1.5 then V 2.0 rolls out in a few months.

Witness the same thing when Keynote 1.0 for the iPad was released. Now it is a very competent app., and I expect even more feature matching (with desktop Keynote 5) when the iPad 3 is released soon with its beefier CPU and graphics.

So, with my worst fears that Keynote was to be orphaned not realised and indeed almost a centre of attention with its place in the iBooks Author workflow and feature set, I could concentrate on the event’s central message: Apple is about the inovation experience, supported by its hardware.

In returning to its educational roots, Apple once more puts itself forward as a technology company that can do it all, supplying hardware, software and content for a specialised cohort in real need of innovation.

All the time I was watching this trifecta in action, I kept thinking how any Android-based tablet maker is going to make any headway into the K-12 marketplace. Yes, I expect to hear many complaints not merely of an Apple walled-garden but such a severe lock-in as to call it a moat. Especially with respect to exclusivity of iBooks Authored works being sold only within the iBooks store. Of course, if you repackage the contents for another ePub service using other publishing/creation tools, Apple has no lock on you. Perhaps that other service does. So it seems to me Apple is applying the same prohibitions and permissions as it does for apps you create using its proprietary coding. Yes, you might create the images in Photoshop and the words in MS Word, but if you lay it out and include iBooks Author’s wrapping to publish it, yep, it’s exclusive to Apple. The content and IP is still your’s; how and where you choose to create and publish the final work is your choice.

The lock in to iPads has some arguing families will not be able to afford iPads. These are fair criticisms, but if we wait a little longer, let’s see the price of an iPad 2 when the iPad 3 is released. It’s made its moolah for Apple, and perhaps will be reduced to a more affordable $399 or even a version for $299. Do kids spend this much on Nike sneakers nowadays?

So Android-based tablets might be cheaper or even preferred by those filled with anti-Apple sentiments, but where’s the content? Apple seems to have sewn up those educational textbook makers who in the USA control 90% of the market, according to figures shown at the Apple Education event.

Where do Android-based tablets go in this marketplace? Nowhere, I think, perhaps left to focus on the enterprise setting. But if you were Toshiba or ASUS or Acer or even Microsoft, you’d be worried that children in Kindergarten are being exposed to Apple’s iPad economy, and they will accept the iPad form factor as the norm for “computing”. I put this in quotes because I’m trying to think of another term these children will use as they grow up, because it’s not the computer their parents have known to be a computer.

And you know what? Those kids won’t care. It’ll be called an iPad. That’s sufficient.

[UPDATE: I have added the Sunrise TV video from YouTube, corrected some of the spelling errors from commenters, and in gratitude, include this cartoon:]

Was it Steve Jobs’ literally dying wish to upend another lazy industry – science and academic publishing? We’ll know more this Thursday

With Macworld just around the corner, I am tweaking my workshop presentation for January 25. By that time, we will know more about Apple’s publishing keynote to be held this Thursday and whether yet another industry – publishing, especially academic and scholarly – will be disrupted by Apple technologies.

Some time back I wrote about this possibility here on this blog:

Click on the screenshot to go to the blog entry

Notice, will you, the date of this entry: January 7, 2010. The iPad 1 keynote was held on January 27, almost three weeks later, so at the time of writing we were still in the “tablet rumour” phase of iPad’s release.

But it seemed so certain that a tablet was on its way – although up to the day before no one guessed its name – that bloggers like me were already envisioning what its release would mean. For consumers and various industries too, such as publishing.

In my blog entry, this is what I wrote about scholarly publishing:

“Well, I’m saying the same thing to Steve Jobs: “Steve, mate, help science along by luring the publishing world in with a tablet as a lifeline to a dying industry, then grab them by the short and curlies like you did with the music industry!”

What I was referring to was the outlandish price of academic texts, both in book form, as well as downloadable articles for which the major publishing houses still charge anywhere between $25 and $35 for a PDF of perhaps only a few pages.

It’s wild-eyed pricing, given there are so many ways to obtain the same article, from writing directly to the lead author, going to their academic website where their publications are often listed for download, asking a friend with an academic position to get it for you, or using a search engine to eventually locate it. I would say 90% of the time I am successful with one of these methods within a few hours. Remember too, that authors get no royalties, and in some cases are prohibited from distributing their own published work as a condition of being published in a prestigious journal.

The other idea not unique to my thinking when contemplating the Apple tablet was self-publication, something which has been hinted at being included on Thursday, and for which Apple tools, like Pages, already exist, partially.

It seems the iPad is ideal for turning academic texts on their heads, including highly engaging visuals in enhanced versions. Late last year, I bought on iBooks an enhanced book about the dog, Rin Tin Tin, by Susan Orleans.

Note in the screenshot, below, both the book’s cover, and the list of videos within the book’s “covers” (page 14):

Cover and list of chapters

And if you go to Page 14, you’ll see the video listings:

List of Videos in Susan Orlean's Rin Tin Tin

And finally, without showing the movie in action, this is what it looks like, embedded, bearing in mind you can make the video full screen, as well as play it through Airplay to a monitor:

(UPDATE: My colleague Anthony Caruana asks about keeping open multiple books when say working on essays, as one does in analogue format. My response is that a beefed up iPad 3 may allow more multitasking, so that you can have multiple books open “behind” each other, and using an Misson Control-like  spread of the fingers, all the books can be seen, much like you can see all the apps or docs when using Mac OS X (below):

Hold the icon down in the Dock, and Show All Windows

Moreover, by using the iPad’s screenshot capabilities you can, as I have above, copy and paste in quotations from sources, to show you actually obtained them, rather than requoting from another source without sighting the original.)

I expect we may see a beefed up Pages announced on Thursday to assist the self-publishing process beyond its current format, and if that is the case, perhaps a reworked iWork 12 too – although it’s tiring to keep flogging a near moribund horse. Who knows, perhaps a new app. to be added to the iWork coterie.

Creating an ePub in Pages is very limited, and indeed you cannot use the professionally created page layout templates Pages comes with to create an ePub. See below:

You can create a vanilla style document and insert video into it, and it will export to ePub format for transfer to an iDevice, like an iPad, using the word processor templates:

While you only see a still image, above, it’s actually a movie file I created for last year’s Macworld (Keynote on the iPad).

But that’s all well and good for private use and sharing. But what if I want to use Keynote and Pages to make a book for sale, perhaps starting with Presentation Magic using Keynote with all the effects and tutorials from my workshops? Rather than have handouts using lots of trees at workshops, why not gift my book for iPads and iPhones so that workshop attendees can either follow along (not my preferred option) or review the workshop afterwards with all the techniques I used explained and illustrated in much more detail?

And of course, the book is for sale on iBooks for a nominal price. Doesn’t this take self-publication to a whole new level? Yes, and like so many things Apple does, it’s been done before, but not this way and not this easily.

The next step is to take on the webinar, online training and Continuing Professional Education fields, which is worth billions.

Using the same tools authors use for their daily work, users could easily take their presentations and workshops and rework them for sale later without the extra expensive outside contractors needed to do it currently. Go and take a look at my APEX presentation of September 12, 2011, which I blogged about here.

The video I mention which is on YouTube was created using Keynote for the slides and presentation, my iPhone 4 to record the video and audio, and ScreenFlow to assemble the exported Keynote slides as a video and the iPhone output into a YouTube video.

This was a one person operation using inexpensive software, which easily lends itself to self-publishing workshops, and which can be value-added with an enhanced book for sale on iBooks Scholar (I just named it that). Perhaps Apple will release more tools for self-publishing a la Garageband integrating the output of Keynote, Pages and iMovie and then uploading them, like a podcast to iTunes University or the iBooks store.

The time is surely right to take on the world of science publishing, and I’m of the belief that this was in fact literally Steve Jobs’ dying wish – to disintermediate another industry which has become lazy and lacked innovation because no one dared stand up to it, much less the scientists who grasp the publishing industry’s teets for their tenured lives.

Publishing on Thursday and Television later in the year: it’s going to be a very interesting year in the science and creative arts in 2012.

[UPDATE: The website, 9-5Mac, reports an interesting juxtaposition occurring. An entry, without naming its author, suggests that Apple’s iWork Vice-President, Roger Rosner, has been transferred and “will be heading up the development of Apple’s entry into the textbook market.”

This is under Apple Senior VP, Eddy Cue, whose presenting style in Apple keynotes I’m no great fan of, but he is one heck of a smart operator, recently promoted, and I believe mentored by Steve Jobs, especially during the iTunes music rollout.

What this means for iWork is open for speculation. Will it mean tighter integration between iWork and Apple’s efforts to bring self-publishing tools to the marketplace in the form of Pages 5 (or iWork 12) or a new application, as suggested in my main blog entry, above? And what of Keynote? Abandoned or beefed up to to assist the creative aspects of self-publishing enhanced books, with audio, video and embedded animations, especially in textbooks?]


Stimulated by the interested shown in the solving of the Final Cut Pro X sneak peek keynote build effect, I’ve raced ahead and included two more Keynote files, this time of my own making. In the first, I feature something … Continue reading

A new build feature discovered in Keynote 12 or just some really smart Keynote authors working at Apple?

Welcome to the first blog post of 2012!

In the lead up to my two presentations at Macworld in a few weeks time, I’m creating some Keynote effects which I hope will tantalise and enchant my intended audience.

Since there will be more people reading this blog than will attend, I thought I’d use you as a guinea pig to beta test some of my ideas. I’m going to put up some Keynote effects over the course of the next few weeks until I depart for San Francisco. The challenge will be if you can work out how I did it – and whether you think they are effects worth demonstrating and teaching at Macworld.

I was thinking about this in December, but my accidental discovery of a video on Vimeo (I’ve been playing with the AppleTV over the hot, slow days of summer here in Australia) has moved the schedule forward.

In fact, the effect I’m going to show you is one I didn’t create, but one created for a “sneak peek” keynote at Supermeet NAB Las Vegas in mid-April before the official  launch of Final Cut Pro X in  June 2011.

Now even if you don’t use FCP X, but you’re an Apple follower, you’ll know the huge ruckus this rewrite created in the professional editing community, with many saying it was iMovie Pro or “iMovie on steroids”, lamenting the lack of compatibility with previous versions, the exclusion of much loved previous features, and so on. I’ve been predicting for a while now that Keynote too will get the FCP X “treatment” when its next upgrade is released, and that prediction is somewhat forged by Apple’s long time between updates suggesting a rewrite. And if Apple can do what it did to its professional users with FCP X, it will certainly have no second thoughts about Keynote, which is in desperate need of a rewrite too, if only to put a “Magic timeline” into being. It too might be called a Magnetic timeline as it is for FCP X, (see live link, below).

I want to feature a video from Vimeo taken at the Las Vegas sneak peek of FCP X, by Emanuel Pamperi. It shows FCP X’s chief architect, Peter Steinauer, going through some of its feature set, to much rousing applause (especially the price of $299!). That applause turned to dismay when the same crowd got its hands on FCP X in June, from previously mentioned reports. There were even “Hitler parodies” made, wondering what Apple was thinking when it made the serious changes it did! (Link:

Emanuel’s video is in two sections of 25 minutes, and you can see section 1 in its entirety here (but don’t go there just yet):

About 9:10 in Steinauer introduces new features known as Content Auto Analysis where FCP X analyses the raw data such as searching for faces or crowds or colour matching. I’ve taken the video and edited it so you see how he brings in each feature, starting with the raw source (an SD card) and its target (an iMac).

Here is the edited feature set below (edited, because it’s not in real time and there’s no sound track):

1. Notice how the sequence begins with three elements: SD Card -> iMac

2. The first feature – what would be a dreary bullet point in another presentation software – comes in, separating the SD card and iMac with move builds. Notice how the arrow duplicates and separates in the one build. Probably there were two arrows layered over each other in step 1, and each arrow moved as part of the build. (Well, that’s how I would have done it.)

3. New features are added from the bottom up in table format, again keeping the focus on the features in an animated fashion, rather than static bullet points.

4. But do you notice something I’ve not been able to duplicate? Each new cell of the table both dissolves in and moves upward as the whole table moves to make room? Please go back and have another look because it’s easy to miss.

5. I’ve tried to reproduce this but Keynote 5 will not let a move and dissolve build together: it’s only after one build completes that the other build can occur, as the screen shot below shows. There is no Automatically with option.

6. So either I’m missing something, or what we saw at Las Vegas was a new Keynote feature, something I’m sure many of us could put to good use as we attempt to rid the world of bullet points!

I asked my esteemed Keynote colleague and theme creator John Driedger to have a go, and he came up with the same semi-solution as I did: we can move, then dissolve but not at the same time. (John will hopefully have some new themes and elements for me to show at Macworld).

So, over to you: Can you reproduce the effect here just using Keynote; do we have evidence of a new Keynote feature; or merely that the keynote author used a third party motion app to create the effect?

If you think you can do it in Keynote, email your Keynote file to me (, I’ll verify it and post it as an update here. No prizes (yet!)

UPDATE (Jjanuary 5) : Problem solved using MagicMove and opacity controls. Well done to Spydre for suggesting this solution!